****Chapter 3, Nerves ****

I can hear them fucking in my head. It sounds desperate, clumsy, forced…they're having freak-out sex.
This is my second night apart from the gang. I couldn't bear to go back "empty-handed," not this soon…and there is something strange building in my chest. Something hard and heavy that drags on me and makes me wish for solitude…or Michael.
This same something is what drives me to the sunken hotel, even though I know what I will find there. I am hoping actually seeing it will give me the spark of rage I need to just kill her. (Call me a pussy, but I have never been much for killing my own kind, even simpering little half-monsters like Star; it feels like I don't know, cannibalism.)

By the time I pad silently down the steps, they are finished, and asleep. It is dark save for the moon and some overly-sentimental candlelight; like something out of a bad music video. He is on the very edge of the bed, curled away from her. I take a moment to admire his naked chest and the unabashed brown curls that have fallen haphazardly across his forehead…such a feral creature, Michael. She is leaning into him. Her arm grasps his waist possessively even in sleep, and her breathing is even with his. Enjoy it while you can, Star. It would be a lie even if I didn't rip out your heart.

I reach out to do it…to take out all my frustration and anger on something useful. I want to pound his rejection into her flesh. I want to drink every last drop of his horror at my illusions, meant to impress and entice, out of her skinny little body. I want to tear away his stubbornness along with her face, and glare at the naked nerves, muscle, and bone beneath.
There's nothing more honest than blood vessels.
I don't know how long I stand here…probably almost half an hour, until finally my hand moves…and brushes away his hair.
What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. Me.
Disgusted at my weakness, I turn quickly and all but run from the godforsaken hovel. I run until my feet just aren't touching the ground anymore…yeah, flying loses its luster after a while. Sort of becomes habit.
Where am I going? No, not the caves…they'll be back there soon. The other Lost Boys hanging on my every word, waiting for a report of my exploits and whereabouts. Eugh. Obviously can't go back to the hotel…I think I'd burn it to the ground if I did…I don't have a coffin stored away anywhere, though admittedly that would be a useful feature of the folklore right about now.

Suddenly, He is in my head, clear as if he were at my ear. His tone is gentle and paternal, something that instinctively I find grating, but ultimately it slows me down. There's no use fighting the invasion…he dug the hole in my soul, and can visit any time he wants.

"Come home, David."

I hover still for a moment…then with a growl I turn and race towards one of the more tasteful suburbs of Santa Clara, towards Max and his inevitable probing.

The house is completely black on the outside, and the dogs sleep fitfully just inside the gates. Not exactly the most inviting dwelling, but he likes it that way. Anyway who am I to talk; I live underground. With nearly subconscious ease I locate the side entrance and enter noiselessly. The never-before-used kitchen is eerily quiet, leaving me completely undistracted from my thoughts. Fuck. This is what they invented rock music and stereos for Max, you ancient fucking bore.
As if on cue, (okay TOTALLY on cue,) Mozart's Moonlight Sonata starts playing faintly from another room, accompanied by a soft, familiar laughter.

"Tsk, David. Every era has its distracting revolutionaries."

He is lounging against the opposite entryway as if he's always been there. I grunt in response and open the fridge, taking refuge from his knowing eyes in the quest for blood.

"Only this is not your customary method, my son. Nor do you usually go so long without feeding; something is wrong with the Beaver."

Ugh God really? In a decidedly intense gesture I grab the nearest bottle to me and rip the cork off. After a long, thirsty draught of what tastes like the last gasps of some banal uptown shop girl, (Max and his middle aged lambs…ew.) I deal him a scornful grin.

"You really crack yourself up, don't you?"

"Usually. But it's much more fun when I've got an audience."

I open my mouth to retort with something cruel or full of attitude…but all that comes out is a giant sigh. Horrified, I clamp my mouth shut so that it can't betray me with anymore incongruous sounds, but as I do every muscle in me sags with the weight of the dead.

"Oh, David…"


He does not immediately respond, but otherwise, he gives no reaction to my loudest outburst in…I don't know how long. I prefer sarcasm to yelling…velvet to nails. Lionel Luther had it right when he said that-

"We are at our weakest when we are angry, David."

I finish off Susie Cashier and collapse in one of his ornate wooden chairs. My answering smile is bitter. "Funny then that you always see fit to use me like one of your attack dogs."
He doesn't take the bait; I don't think I have ever scratched the surface of one of Max's nerves. It's the power of the very old, to be stone. He merely takes the seat across from me and rests his head on one of his hands, all at once resembling an oversized, bespectacled owl.

"Are you unhappy with the life we have here?"


"Because if you were, we could leave. Or you could leave. You know enough now to make it on your own, I have no reason to stop you. I don't think I could even if I tried. True I've grown used to being Master of this city, but, when we get down to the math of things, there are more boys I could bring over. New gangs for new boardwalks…new and replaceable power."
Something in my chest clenches tightly. I fall to studying my reflection in the bottle.

"Stop being stupid."

His smile is a triumphant one. "Does it placate your pride, then, to think of your service to me as an obligation? I am sorry; I will not tread over it so carelessly again."

I have nothing to say to that. I want to leave. It was stupid coming here…I don't even know why I-

"Because it's where you belong."

There is a long silence. My knuckles are white with the effort I am putting into clenching the empty bottle's neck. My reflection grows blurrier and blurrier by the second. Finally, when I think I will go crazy focusing on the trills of the background piano…

"This job…its harder than I thought it would be."

He reaches across the table and puts a gentle hand on my shoulder.

"But you're doing fine; he's halfway there, David. It's difficult for everyone the first few days but he'll come around. And as far as that pesky little brother of his, I deflected all suspicion safely off myself tonight at dinner; these slayers he's working with are real amateurs."

"Star's got him." It's about the only way I can verbalize the current situation. Which is fine; speech is a polite formality.

"Star. Well, she was your idea." He chuckles. "I hope she taught you that the conquest of a woman is no more thrilling to you as a vampire than it was when you were human. You are what you are, my son."

"And what am I, Max? Why don't you just keep right on talking."

That infernal hand moves away from my shoulder to cup my left cheek; anyone else on earth right now would be dead; okay well we're both dead, but you know what I mean; really really dead.

"You are a God, David. When I found you on that grubby street corner forty years ago, making vivid death threats against your attackers even as you gasped your life force out of a punctured lung, you already had the potential, the beauty, and the ego of a God…I just gave you the power. Unfortunately…the only power that transcends the boundaries of humanity on this earth…is monstrous. Over time, we learn to embrace the beast within us, but it takes time."

I just look at him. He knows what I want to say.

"And I know that you took to it immediately, my beautiful, adaptable son. But…you were born into a mortal family who was no family at all, and you faced a mortal world that was unkind and unsuited to your temperament. You had nothing, David. Nothing but the next crime, the next score; the acquisition of materials and prowess simply for the sake of it, because what else was there but death and despair…"

"Ugh you are such a sentimental old FOOL-"

"But I am right, David. Its mortal lives like yours that make me remorseless about the killing we do…because in every human, there is the degenerate potential that claimed your absent alcoholic father, and the cruelty that consumed your vindictive mother. There is the brutishness of the schoolboys who systematically beat my little God when they realized he was different, and the intolerant derision of the teachers who turned a blind eye. There is the betrayal of all those friends, the cold unwinnable games of all those lovers, the wolfish grins of the drug dealers…David, if you think for a second that you are not what they made you,…well, that just compounds the heinousness of their crimes."

He pauses for a minute, apparently trying to refocus on the point he may or may not have actually been making before he went off on a sappy tangent about my years in Levittown, then…

"Now, Michael…Michael is lucky. He has a brother he feels responsible for, and a mother that…well she makes me forget about all the evil in the world. She is one of the kindest, gentlest women I have ever-"

"Kill me now."

"Point is…Michael has something to lose in all this, even if, in you and what you offer, he has a whole new world to gain."

I shrug and deal him a characteristic smirk. "Well this was fun, truly. But traditional sex is more my style; I'm not into mind-fucking."

"Of all your lies-"

"I'll see you. "



I am halfway out the door, but he follows me and wills me to stop. All I want to do is sleep now…forget about all this. Maybe when I will wake up I'll be me again.

"I am sorry this is causing you such pain. The things that are worth it always do. But we will have our happy ending, David; the plan is progressing perfectly…and he will come around."

A growl of frustration escapes my throat. When only a second before I felt weary, now I am irate and agitated. Star must be rubbing off on me.

"This isn't a fucking fairy tale. Or if it is, I'm the dragon. I will burn him, and then I will consume him, and he will love me for it. Don't confuse us, Max. For that matter, don't confuse yourself; you're a little long in the tooth to be playing Prince Charming."

His sigh is full of a pity that is maddening. It follows me out the door and into the sky.